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Fuels and Materials Research Laboratory

Fuels and Materials Research Laboratory
The Fuels and Materials Research Laboratory (FMRL) works with project scientists and engineers at the EERC to analyze coal and other fuels, determine the physical properties of coal ash and other ceramic materials, and test the utility of coal ash as a valuable by-product of coal utilization. The FMRL houses three laboratories: the High-Temperature Research Laboratory (HTRL), the Coal By-Products Utilization Laboratory (CBUL), and the Coal Analysis Laboratory (CAL).

High-Temperature Research Laboratory

The HTRL focuses on evaluating the temperature-dependent physical properties of ash and other ceramic materials, including viscosity, thermal stability, strength, and corrosivity. Several furnace systems are available for testing with any atmosphere up to temperatures of 1700°C.

One of the key difficulties in the development of advanced pressurized fluidized-bed combustion (PFBC) and integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) systems is the need to remove particulates at high temperatures and pressures. HTML research on these advanced combustion systems has included examination of ash deposition behavior, mechanisms of strength development, and surface reactions, all at elevated temperatures under combustion atmospheres.

Power generation facilities in the eastern United States have started blending western U.S. coals with the local eastern coals in attempts to reduce sulfur emissions. The HTML is active in determining the ash deposition and strength development rates of the blended coals as the resulting ash deposits and sinters inside a combustion process.

The HTRL is equipped with the following instrumentation and equipment:

  • Viscosity measurements of ash slags in oxidizing or reducing environments in the range of 10–3000 poise. Slag viscosity is measured with a rotating-bob viscometer as the temperature drops from 1500°C to freezing temperature. Accuracy is ±5%.
  • Strength measurements of ash deposits or ceramic materials at up to 1500°C
    • Compressive strength
    • Creep
    • Tensile strength
  • Sintering propensity of powdered materials in corrosive environments
  • Chemical analyses of surfaces
  • Measurements of coal slag and vapor-phase corrosion rates against structural ceramic materials
  • Thermal expansion properties of ceramic materials up to 1600°C.

Coal By-Products Utilization Laboratory

The CBUL has provided physical testing and research on concrete, fly ash, and engineering materials for more than 20 years. Research and development work on coal by-products have resulted in significant technological advancement in several applications, including mineral wool, cement replacement, high-flexural-strength ceramics, sulfur concrete, high-heat-capacity brick, soil and road subbase stabilization, controlled low-strength materials, and ash liner materials. The CBUL is fully equipped to evaluate almost all civil engineering materials testing parameters, which are the cornerstone of testing procedures to evaluate the utilization of coal by-products.

  • ASTM International C618: Fly ash and raw calcined natural pozzolan for use as a mineral admixture in portland cement concrete
    • Available chemical testing:
      • SiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3
      • MgO, CaO
      • SO3
    • Moisture loss
    • Loss on ignition
    • Available alkalies as Na2O
    • Available physical testing
    • Amount retained on No. 325 sieve
    • Pozzolanic activity index with portland cement
    • Autoclave expansion or contraction
    • Specific gravity
  • ASTM C204: Fineness by air permeability
  • ASTM C593: Fly ash and other pozzolans for use with lime
    • Compressive strength
    • Vacuum saturation test
  • ASTM C114: Chemical analysis of hydraulic cement
  • ASTM C469: Static modulus of elasticity of concrete in compression, 6 x 12-in. cylinders
  • Bituminous (asphalt concrete) testing
    • Marshall hot-mix design by ASTM D1559
    • Extraction, rice voids analysis by ASTM D2172
  • Extrusion and firing of high-flexural-strength ceramic specimens containing fly ash–sand/glass–clay mixtures
  • Mixing, compaction, curing, compression testing, and freeze–thaw testing of American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) T99 and T180 stabilization cylinders
  • Sampling and testing of normal and lightweight concrete aggregate, including sieve analyses, specific gravity, and soundness
  • Other available physical tests
    • ASTM C441 and C227: Reactivity with cement alkalies
    • ASTM C1012: Length change of hydraulic cement mortars exposed to a sodium sulfate solution
    • ASTM C185: Air content of hydraulic cement mortar
  • Long-term resistance of concrete to sulfate exposure
  • Permeability testing
    • Concrete cylinders (6 x 12 in.)
    • Soil and other materials
    • ASTM D2343: Membrane-type permeameter (triaxial apparatus)
    • Bureau of Reclamation: Falling and constant head methods
  • Laboratory batching and testing of portland cement concrete by ASTM C192

Coal Analysis Laboratory

The Coal Analysis Laboratory (CAL) is an integrated and fully equipped laboratory set up primarily for proximate, ultimate, and calorific value analyses of fossil fuels and biomass. It also has additional testing capabilities for process by-products and other sample types.

The CAL performs analyses according to ASTM standards on the following materials:

  • Petroleum products
  • Coal and coal by-products
  • Soil, rock, and building stones
  • Biomass

The CAL is equipped with the following instrumentation and equipment:

  • Leco TGA-701 analyzer – This instrument uses thermogravimetric analysis to determine moisture, volatile matter, and ash content. Fixed carbon is calculated by difference to report a full proximate analysis.
  • Elementar Vario Cube CHN analyzer – Carbon–hydrogen–nitrogen (CHN) is part of the ultimate analysis. Carbon and hydrogen values are used to determine the amount of oxygen required in combustion processes and calculations of efficiency of combustion processes. Nitrogen values can be used to evaluate the potential formation of nitrogen oxides as a source of atmospheric pollution.
  • Leco Tru-Spec sulfur add-on – Sulfur is determined by high-temperature combustion and infrared absorption detection. The sulfur content is part of the ultimate analysis.
  • Leco AC-350 isoperibol calorimeter – The gross calorific value or heating value is used to classify coals and other fuels. It is also used to evaluate the effectiveness of beneficiation processes for research.
  • Micromeritics Flowsorb surface area analyzer – The surface area of granulated and powdered solids or porous materials is measured by determining the quantity of gas that adsorbs as a single layer of molecules on the sample.
  • Micromeritics helium air pycnometer – The multivolume pycnometer determines the skeletal density by measuring the reduction of gas volume in the sample chamber caused by the presence of the sample.
  • Malvern 2600 particle-size analyzer – The sample is illuminated by the light from a low-power visible wavelength laser. The particles scatter some of the light at angles characteristic of their size, forming a series of diffraction patterns that are focused onto the detector. Size range is 0.5 to 564 μm.
  • Fusibility of coal and coke – Ash fusibility temperatures help predict the behavior of ash in coal combustion and coal conversion systems. The laboratory analyzes samples in both reducing and oxidizing atmospheres.
  • Facilities for sample preparation, sieving, and grinding.